Georgia shows concerning signs, according to Biden

President Biden is encountering concerning indications in Georgia, the state he successfully turned blue for the first time in decades during the 2020 election. These indications include low primary turnout and a dearth of significant down-ballot races, which fail to generate enthusiasm among his base.

In the previous election cycle, Biden secured a victory over former President Trump in the Peach State by a margin of fewer than 12,000 votes. However, recent polls indicate that the tides may be turning, with the former president gaining an advantage as they prepare for a potential rematch in 2024.

Democrats admit that Biden has some work ahead of him to rally voters in the state, as Ohio is set to once again have a significant impact on the November election.

“The Democrats in Georgia are facing some discouraging news, as there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm among their voters compared to the Republicans,” explained Fred Hicks, a Democratic strategist based in Atlanta. He emphasizes that the crucial question for Democrats is not about their preferred candidate for the upcoming November elections, but rather whether they will actually make it to the polling stations to cast their votes.”

Georgia’s Democratic primary last week saw Joe Biden emerge as the clear winner, leaving his long-shot challengers far behind. With a commanding victory, Biden secured over 95 percent of the vote. However, despite his overwhelming support, the total voter turnout for the primary fell slightly short, with just under 290,000 voters participating, as reported by Decision Desk HQ.

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About 85 percent of the votes went to Trump on the Republican side. Interestingly, the GOP contest witnessed a significantly higher turnout compared to the opposing party, with almost 590,000 Georgians participating in casting their ballots.

Turnout will be crucial in Georgia, a state that Trump won in 2016 and where Biden narrowly secured victory by a margin of just one-quarter of 1 percent. While strategists acknowledge that the primary electorate may not accurately reflect the general election results, it is still an important factor to consider.

According to Abigail Collazo, a Democratic strategist with experience in Georgia, the outcome of the upcoming election is uncertain. In a year like this, where every vote counts, the Biden campaign cannot afford to take anything for granted, especially when it comes to securing the support of Black and minority voters.

The previous election cycle in Georgia witnessed an unprecedented surge in voter participation. It was a contest between Biden and the incumbent Trump, and the presence of other significant races further fueled the enthusiasm among voters.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Democrats showed up in significant numbers to not only remove Trump from office but also to elect Democrat Jon Ossoff as the state’s inaugural Jewish senator and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) as the state’s groundbreaking Black senator.

In 2016, Georgia made an interesting move by merging its presidential preference primary and general primary into a single election in June. However, this year, they have returned to having separate dates for these two important events.

According to Hicks, the main question that arises is whether Biden-Harris can achieve the same level of Democratic turnout as in 2020, considering that this election lacks the historic significance of previous races.

Biden will need to rally the support of Pennsylvania’s sizable Black population during his campaign for reelection. This demographic accounts for about one-third of the state’s population and presents a crucial voting bloc in this battleground state. However, recent polls indicate that the incumbent is facing challenges in maintaining his national support among this demographic.

Approximately 6,000 Georgians opted to leave their ballots blank in the Democratic primary, as per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This comes amidst a growing trend in several states where voters are registering protest votes against the administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

The state of Georgia recently became a focal point in the ongoing immigration debate following the tragic death of University of Georgia student, Laken Riley. This incident has raised concerns about illegal immigration and has led to accusations that President Biden’s approach to border control is to blame. A Venezuelan citizen, who entered the country illegally, has been arrested and charged with Riley’s murder, further fueling the partisan divide on the issue.

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Biden acknowledged the tragic death of Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an undocumented individual. Responding to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s heckling, Biden emphasized the importance of addressing all instances of violence, including those committed by undocumented individuals. He also expressed his heartfelt condolences to Laken’s parents, empathizing with their pain as someone who has also experienced the loss of a child.

According to a survey conducted by Emerson College Polling and The Hill, Trump currently holds an 8-point advantage over Biden in Georgia when it comes to the issue of immigration. Additionally, in a general election rematch, polling averages from Decision Desk HQ/The Hill indicate that Trump is leading Biden by 5 points.

According to Jay Williams, a Republican strategist based in Georgia, for Biden to have a better chance of winning the state, he would have to take a more assertive approach on the border.

According to Ben Taylor, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, there are encouraging signs for both White House contenders.

Taylor said that if he were running either of the campaigns, he would prefer to be in the position of the Trump campaign. However, he also noted that this position is precarious.

Trump is encountering obstacles in Georgia due to criminal charges filed against him. These charges stem from his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. It is worth noting that some charges related to Trump’s controversial call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he urged him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory, were dropped by a judge last week. However, Trump still faces 10 counts in this ongoing case.

Audrey Haynes, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, expressed her concerns about the upcoming election, emphasizing its high stakes and the potential impact of a Trump loss. She highlighted the significance of every vote and the uncertainty surrounding the outcome if Trump follows a familiar pattern and fails to secure victory.

Haynes pondered whether this event would be the final blow, sealing the deal. He questioned if the response would be similar to the previous assertion that the system was rigged, leading to a state of chaos for the entire nation.

Trump continued to rack up wins in the GOP primary, while his former opponent Nikki Haley managed to secure around 13 percent support. This is particularly noteworthy considering that a significant number of the approximately 77,000 ballots in her favor were likely cast after Haley had already dropped out of the race on March 6. These votes could potentially be seen as a form of protest against Trump.

The significant number of Haley voters in a state that Biden narrowly won by 12,000 votes in the previous election presents an opportunity for his reelection campaign to attract disillusioned Republicans and convince them to join the Democratic party.

According to Taylor, Trump could face a problem if those voters choose not to participate, even if they do not switch their party affiliation.

According to Taylor, if the Biden campaign can maintain a close race in Georgia, it will not only benefit them in terms of electoral votes, but also strategically force the Trump campaign to exhaust their resources. This would put the Trump campaign at a disadvantage towards the end of the election.

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According to Mark Rountree, a Republican pollster from Georgia, the Haley supporters could pose significant challenges for Trump in the current general election. However, Rountree believes that with six more months of advertising and messaging, Trump has a good chance of winning many of those supporters back.

Last week, Biden and Trump secured wins in Georgia, Washington, and Mississippi, solidifying their positions as the presumptive nominees for their respective parties. This sets the stage for a highly anticipated rematch in November, with experts predicting a close and fiercely contested race. Notably, both candidates held separate campaign events in Georgia, further highlighting the significance of this battleground state.

Keron Blair, the chief organizing and field officer of the progressive New Georgia Project Action Fund, emphasized the significance of Georgia for Republicans’ success, stating, “Georgia is a highly competitive state, and Republicans cannot secure victory without it.”

Blair emphasized the importance of Democrats continuing to invest in Georgia and pushing for a fair electoral competition.

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